How Often Does My Pet Need to See the Vet?

One of my Ferrets, his name is CincinHow often do you take your pet to the vet? (Image via Wikipedia)

The primary reason that many pet owners ask this question is because they are unclear about what preventative care or well-animal visits are needed for their pet.  The office visit with your vet is the core of any preventative care and well-animal program.  In order to monitor changes to your pet’s health over time, recommend vaccinations and preventative health programs, and find any health problems early, your vet needs to see your pet on a regular basis.  By the time your pet starts exhibiting symptoms that you notice, a disease may have progressed to the point that the most effective treatment options are no longer available.


We recommend that dogs get an annual exam until they are eight years old and then are examined twice a year for the remainder of their life.  A preventative care visit will include a physical exam, any necessary vaccinations, and possibly a fecal parasite exam.   The following vaccines should be given to dogs every year, parvovirus, distemper, coronavirus, hepatitis, lyme disease, and respiratory disease.  Additionally, dogs should have a rabies vaccine every three years.  During the visit, your vet can answer any questions you have and offer recommendations on things like proper diet and prevention programs for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.


We recommend the same schedule for cats as for dogs, an annual exam until they are eight years old and twice a year for the remainder of their life.  Preventative care visits for cats will also include a complete physical exam, any necessary vaccinations, and possibly a fecal parasite exam.   The following vaccines should be given to cats every year, distemper, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, pneumonitis, feline leukemia, and rabies.  Cats should also receive the vaccine for feline infectious peritonitis according to the schedule recommended by their vet.    As part of the exam, the vet will be able to answer any questions you have and make recommendations about proper diet and how to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms.


Ferrets should also see the vet annually for a quick check-up and any necessary vaccinations.  This visit is considered preventative care and will include the same types of things as visits for cats and dogs.  Ferrets are susceptible to some of the same diseases as dogs and cats including distemper, rabies, and heartworm.  An annual visit to a ferret-friendly vet can help catch problems early and reinforce the need for adequate preventative measures.  Ferrets need to receive vaccines for canine distemper, rabies, and heartworm.  It is very important that ferrets receive the canine distemper vaccine as the feline distemper vaccine offers no protection.


Similar to the other pets here, rabbits need an annual visit for a check-up and to get their vaccines.  Rabbits need to be vaccinated against myxomatosis and VHD.  If your rabbit has any specific health concerns, your vet may recommend more frequent visits.  Make sure you find a vet that specializes in and/or is knowledgeable about how to care for rabbits.

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